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Nearly half a million babies (1 in 10) are born premature in the US each year which is higher than that of most other developed nations. This is the journeys of our first born son, Finnegan, who was born 14 weeks early and weighed only 1 pound 15 ounces at birth. Of our daugher, Korrigan, who was born a healthy 7 pounds, 7 ounces at 37 weeks. And of our second son, MacKeegan, who was also born at 37 weeks at a whopping 8 pounds, 13 ounces. Our continued adventures reminds us daily how good God is.

Friday, October 14

Fall Conferences

Yesterday, we had fall conferences. Seems early, I know, but this is when our school does them. It is kind of nice, too, because then you can get to know the teachers a little better and see how the first month and a half of school has been going.

To be perfectly honest, I was NOT looking forward to either conference! Normally, I would go to conferences and Jim would stay home with the kiddos. But given that we've dealt with a few things with Korri and that I was expecting a not-so-good report due to Finn's bad attitude about homework, at the last minute I asked neighbors to watch the kiddos so we could both go. Have I mentioned lately how thankful I am for getting to know our neighbors and having ones that we trust? They rock (Lori, Zach's mom and Dori, JJ's mom).

Finn was first. Mrs. B, Finn's 2nd grade teacher, is...interesting. I can't really put my finger on what makes her interesting. Maybe it is that she seems a little scattered, doesn't communicate very much/often and probably interacts better with 2nd graders than adults. Let's just say, the first month of school has made me appreciate and love Ms. Thorsen even more than we did for Kindergarten and First Grade.

That being said, she said Finn is doing GREAT! She said his attitude toward other students and toward teachers is excellent. It was good to hear because (partly due to what Korri has been going through), I focus on this message every day before school. Either he comes by it naturally or he's actually listening (probably the first!). The one area he could work on is self-control. He sometimes needs to be reminded of appropriate behavior (goofing off in the bathroom with other boys) and needs supervision when transitioning (more on that later). But she said she's noticed, even in the last few days, that it is getting better.

Now for the nuts and bolts of what they consider matters most: math and reading scores. Finn is doing well, but math might not be his strength. He has problems with the speed stuff that they focus on for math. He scored "At/Above Benchmark" and should be doing 2nd grade math. Well, that's good. However, reading, as I figured, is a strength. He scored greater than 60% of students nationally and should be reading books as high as third grade, 2nd month. That made me feel much better since he doesn't/won't read the Book Buddy books he brings home and therefore doesn't take the "AR" tests for them (not the same test that was done for his assessment). I guess AR tests are a big deal, but his teacher said they are just getting into the tests and was fine with Finn having only taken one this year so far.

I asked about spelling because I feel like his words are really hard and he kind of refuses to do them with me. Or he'll do them but won't re-do the ones he got wrong. So he gets half of them wrong some weeks. She said she'll look into it but wasn't concerned and might let him chose slightly easier ones so practicing at home isn't so hard. I don't want to "dumb him down" but if he won't practice with me and just gets them all wrong, what's the point? I also asked about how he was "fitting in" and explained the fact that he was the only boy from his previous class in her class. She was surprised to hear that because she said he has many friends and fits in well. Ah, I knew it was a "me issue" and not an issue for him, but it was nice to have that confirmed.

We were five minutes late for Korri's, which was frustrating because we had a lot to talk with her about. Hmmm...Ms. Ready seems like a very nervous person. She talks really fast, has a somewhat hard time making eye contact and seems to get flustered easily. One cute thing is she asked us if it is okay to call her Korri instead of Korrigan! I guess she has had some parents request not doing a nick name or shortening the name. Ha, we're like, "call her whatever she'll respond to!"

She went over the nuts and bolts quickly so that we could discuss the other things going on. Basically, Korri is doing really great and above average on everything! She is at the late Emergent Reader stage which means she can identify the alphabet and match most or all sounds to the letters. She also recognizes many printed words, which I didn't know. She loves reading her Book Buddy books with me (I think it makes her feel like a big kid, "Look, Finn, I can read, too!"). She has more perseverance when she gets stuck with a word than Finn did (she brings home the exact same books Finn did!). And she scored 100% on her math assessment. I guess she's good at math, which is awesome.

The one area she needs to work on is participating in class. She often waits until her friends raise their hands before raising hers, even though Ms. Ready can tell she knows the answer. This doesn's surprise me at all, but I mentioned it to Korri last night and just said that if she know the answer, she should be proud to raise her hand and give the answer. We'll see if this improves. I think part of it is still adjusting to school and everything that goes along with that. Her strengths, as reported by Ms. Ready, are asking for help, positive attitude, treats others with respect, listens to and follows directions and school rules. That's a pretty good list and when I think about it, sums her up perfectly. She likes to do what she's told (at SCHOOL at least!) because she wants people to like her. It will get her far in school at least!

As for the follow up to Korri's issue on the bus last week, we discussed what steps have been taken and I said interactions with the boy in question seem a lot better (as told to me by Korri). But I still felt like she wasn't taking responsibility for her part in not responding right away or being responsive at all. Again, after 24 hours, the only reason why we knew anything was happening was because physically went to school to talk to her. But I also mentioned that I was very disappointed that this boy in question kicked her in the head and she had to go to the nurses office and I wasn't notified at all! I mean, there are two things going on here that make it a big deal: 1. my kid was "injured" enough to need attention from the nures AND 2. this was continued bullying behavior from the same boy who threatened to kill her! I don't think asking for a "heads up" note is asking too much. Ms. Ready basically said it was the responsibility of the nurse. I tried to express that I felt strongly that as the primary care giver of my five year old, it was her job to just make sure I know about it. I don't think the message was fully received but I tried.

On the way out, the school social worker, Mrs. Adickes, was in her office, so Jim and I stopped in. We'd had a pretty bad episode with Finn before conferences and I just needed some feedback. She was SUPER helpful and will talk with him next week. Honestly, she is amazing. I think it helps that she knows we try to do Nurtured Heart at home, which is the approach they do at school as well. Finn had met with her last spring and we saw marked improvement with him and his fits. I think at the end of the day, he just doesn't transition well (shocker that MY son would have a problem with transitions and changes). Hopefully she can help him/us find some tools that help him deal with these kinds of situations.

Overall, I was way happier with conferences than I was expecting to be. Ours kids are smart, well-adjusted and fitting in (Korri's issues at recess seem to be better, at least for now!). My babies:


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